In this column I discuss what I think Valve will be announcing this week – the inscrutable company has left clues and hints to help us glean some idea of what’s going on.
Valve will be making three major announcements this week. The first one will be revealed today (23 September 2013) at approximately 7PM South African time, with the remaining two dropping later in the week.
Valve has previously revealed that they’ll be detailing some of the work they’ve been doing with hardware, and Steam Family Sharing was also recently unveiled, finding some love among gamers despite the restrictions to library access.
On the announcement page, labeled “Living Room”, three symbols appear above a timer to indicate when the announcements will be made live. The symbols give a clue as to what each announcement may be, and I have my own ideas.
The images look like symbols for buttons, but to me they appear to be heads to indicate what impact these announcements make to you, the Steam client user and gamer.
The first announcement has the user on its own. This may indicate that whatever Valve is planning today will affect single users directly. They may announce dramatic changes to the Steam client, the finalisation of the Source 2 engine, or even Left 4 Dead 3. Valve’s site does also say that they’ll be “adding users to the design process,” which could mean anything from voting on hardware designs or which game titles appear on the Steam client.
The second hint does not have a timer yet and seems to indicate a person sitting on a couch and facing a TV. It’s no secret that Valve wants to be in the living room and compete with the console market, and to this end they’ve done a lot of work with Steam Big Picture, and integrating Xbox 360 and Dualshock 3 controller support into their client.
Gabe Newell at Linuxcon last week said that the company would be revealing their progress on the hardware development side and this may be the time to do that. Valve may announce a new controller for the PC designed by the company, and they may finally reveal their plans to invade the living room with the rumoured Steambox.
That in itself is a mystery because there’s no information about what hardware would be in the box and how Valve would make the console-like PC attractive to gamers. The only thing we can bank on is that the Steambox will run on a Linux OS, possibly one customised and supported by Valve.
The last icon appears to be something to do with family sharing; but I disagree. One of the benefits boasted by both the Xbox One and PS4 is the ability to sign into your friend’s console with your account, playing games with them on the same console.
For Steam to be truly attractive, it needs to have the same feature and this is may be what is announced.
Valve may reveal multi-user logins on a primary Steam account, allowing features such as split-screen multiplayer that enables additional players to earn achievements. This is different from their Family Sharing beta feature, through which you can share your library with a friend on another computer.
This would make co-op games like Left 4 Dead much easier to play through, although the hurdle here would be to convince game publishers to allow Valve this kind of freedom. Their in-house titles would certainly be open to such a change, but a AAA title from another company, or from indie developers? That would take a lot of convincing to get right.
What announcements do you think Valve will be making? Are you excited about their invasion to the living room, or do you think its too soon? Let us know in the comments below and the MyGaming forums.